One project of mine is to develop my knowledge and skills for baking with less sugar and develop recipes using no refined sugar. The challenging part of baking without refined sugars is, often sugar has more than one function in a recipe, especially in baked goods. Sugar not only adds flavor, it helps develop the structure and texture in desserts. Whipping sugar and butter together makes cakes and cookies that are tender, light and airy as well as tasting sweet. So, when baked goods do not contain refined sugar it is easy to create a dense and dry muffin, cake or cookie. I believe I averted that challenge and created my first low sugar / no refined sugar muffin with my Good Morning Glory Muffins. These muffins are loaded with healthy and fresh ingredients, and naturally sweetened and moist. They are tender without being weighted down from all the fresh ingredients. A great breakfast to start your day.
Traditional Morning Glory Muffins are easily adapted to a no refined sugar recipe because the grated carrots add a subtle sweet flavor. It also combines all-purpose and whole wheat flours in the recipe. For my recipe, in addition to using grated carrots, I added grated zucchini, grated apples, apple sauce and Medjool dates. The grated carrots, zucchini, and apples I used for texture and flavor, while the applesauce and dates help sweeten the muffins. Apples and dates have a lot of natural sugar and melt when baked into muffins and cakes. They also have a lot of fiber. This helps slow down the digestion which is important to anyone who is counting carbs or watching their blood sugar.
The grated zucchini, grated apples and applesauce provide a lot of moisture. To prevent the muffins from getting soggy, I recommend squeezing out some of the water in the zucchini and apple. You do not have to squeeze them dry but getting rid of most of the water is helpful in creating a tender muffin.
Good Morning Glory Muffins
What I like about these Morning Glory Muffins is they are moist without being heavy and have subtle flavors including the sweetness. You definitely will taste the wheat, but it is not dry tasting. How sweet the muffins tastes depend on how well the chopped dates are incorporated throughout the muffin batter. I do not believe they need more dates in the muffins, otherwise they would be too sweet. Also, Good Morning Glory Muffins are hearty muffins without being heavy, so they won’t weigh you down.
Normally I love bold flavors, but with this recipe the spices create a deliberate subtle flavor profile. Even though I believe there is no such thing as too much fresh ginger, I wanted that flavor to come intermittently between bites like a surprise citrusy-ginger wake up call. The cinnamon is subtle as well, so it won’t over take the muffin flavor. However, each spice is easily adjusted to suit your taste. Often, cinnamon and fresh ginger contribute a sweet flavor in baked goods even though by themselves they are not sweet at all.
Switch it Up
When I first taste tested my Morning Glory Muffins, I thought they needed extra sweetener, so I added a small amount of honey. However, if the dates are evenly mixed in the batter, each muffin should taste sweet without the extra honey. I do not recommend adding more honey as the flavor will overpower the muffins. You can substitute the honey with maple syrup or agave syrup. If you want less sugar, please feel free to omit the honey or, keep the honey and reduce the amount of dates to 3.
Also, to keep these Morning Glory Muffins in the low sugar category, I did not add raisins. Like dates, raisins contain a lot of natural sugar and I was concerned adding them it would make the muffins too sweet. If you are not concerned about the amount of sugar in your muffin add no more than a 1/2 cup (125 ml) of raisins and you will enjoy a sweeter muffin more characteristic to a traditional Morning Glory Muffin.
Grated unsweetened coconut is also a nice addition adding another element in texture and flavor. Add up to a 1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened flaky coconut.
Determining when the Good Morning Glory Muffins are done
The hardest part about making these muffins is determining when they are done. Because of the amount of vegetables in the recipe and all the moisture from the zucchini, apples and eggs the traditional toothpick test is not reliable here because the batter does not cling to the toothpick. However, I still recommend using a toothpick to check for doneness. Instead of looking at the toothpick to see if there is any wet batter clinging to it, touch the end with your finger tips to feel if it is sticky and moist. If it is, the muffins need to continue baking. When the tooth pick feels on the dry side of moist and is not sticky, the Morning Glory Muffins are done.
Additional clues the muffins are done baking are the color and if the muffins spring back when you lightly touch the muffin tops. They should have a nice golden brown color and spring back into shape after you touch the muffin tops.
Nutritional Information for Good Morning Glory Muffins
According to My Fitness Pal calorie and nutrition calculator, when made according to my recipe each muffin has 203 calories. Has 7 grams of fat (11% DRV), of which 1 gram is saturated fat, 4 grams are monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, plus 0 trans-fat. Each muffin has 31 grams of cholesterol (10% DRV) which comes from the eggs. All other ingredients do not contain any cholesterol. Other nutritional points of interest are: Sodium 143 mg (6% DRV), potassium 217 mg (6% DRV), total carbohydrates at 34 g (11% DRV), with dietary fiber at 7 g (30% DRV), and sugar at 10 g. Also, each muffin contains 4 g (8% DRV) of protein, 41% Vitamin A, 16% Vitamin C, 15% Calcium and 10% Iron.
Because of the power of the sugar lobby, nutritional labels do not show the Daily Recommended Value (DRV) for sugar. If must be a concerning percentage if the sugar industry does not want us to know. I was hoping to get these muffins in the single digits, but with 7 grams of dietary fiber I believe they are relatively low in sugar.
More recipes using no refined sugar or less sugar.
Low Fat Granola you can adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe by reducing the amount of dried fruit. Using fresh ginger instead of crystallized ginger is also a great way to cut back on the sugar.
Good Morning Glory Muffins
This muffin recipe is my adaptation for a low sugar Morning Glory Muffin. There is no refined sugar and are loaded with lots of fresh ingredients like apples, zucchini, sweet carrots and Medjool dates. These muffins are not sweet but will contain some sweet bites depending on how many dates are scattered about in each muffin. They are a delicious and healthy choice for breakfast.
For extra protein, serve with ½ cup (66 ml) low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. Or Laban a Lebanese cheese made with yogurt.
Best served warm and the day it is made. Serving size =1 muffin.
- ½ cup 43 g shelled walnuts
- 1 ¼ cup 179 g all-purposed flour
- ¾ cup 120 g whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp 2 g Kosher salt
- 2 tsp 10 g baking powder
- ½ tsp 1 g ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg less than a gram
- 1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger 7 g
- 4 Medjool dates 62 g minced
- 1 zucchini 8 oz / 239 g about 1 2/3 cups grated
- 2 carrots 6 ½ oz / 185 g 1 packed cup grated
- 1 apple 6 ½ oz / 185 g ¾ cup grated
- ½ cup 125 ml apple sauce
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup canola oil or 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 TB honey
Preheat the oven to 375°F/ 190°C / Gas Mark 5 and place the rack in the middle position. Spray each muffin cup with cooking spray. Soak up any excess oil with a paper towel. Or fill each muffin cup with a paper liner.
Toast the walnuts
Heat a small skillet over high heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the shelled walnuts to the skillet and shake the skillet to move the walnuts around the pan. Keep the walnuts in motion by moving the skillet back and forth, shake the skillet or toss with a spoon. The walnuts are toasted when you begin to smell a nutty scent, about 30 seconds. Do not let the walnuts brown or burn.
Immediately turn off the heat and pour the walnuts onto a cutting board to cool. Chop the walnuts to small bite size pieces. Set aside.
Prepare the Zucchini and Apple
Place the grated zucchini in a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out most of the excess water. Squeeze several times to get as much water out. Place on a plate and reserve.
Add the grated apples to the fine mesh strainer and squeeze out some of the water from the apples. Place on the plate with the zucchini. Add the grated carrots to the plate. Set aside.
Make the batter
Add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, Kosher salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, minced ginger to a large mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, stir until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Add the minced dates into the flour and toss the dates around to coat with flour. Use your hands to separate the clumps of chopped dates to get them evenly distributed in the flour.
Slide the grated zucchini, grated carrots, grated apples, and chopped walnuts into the flour mix and stir to mix.
Add the applesauce, canola oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey then stir to mix. Carefully stir until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. You want to be careful to not over mix the batter, but it does need to get all mixed together. It is a thick batter.
Scoop up a heaping ¼ cup of batter with a dry measuring cup and pour the batter into a muffin tin. Repeat to fill all 12 muffin cups. Divide any remaining batter around to even out the muffins.
Bake in the oven for 35– 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and the top of the muffins spring back when touched. Also, when a toothpick is no longer sticky to touch after it was inserted into the center of a muffin.
Remove from the oven and cool the muffins in its' pan placed on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, cool in the muffin tin, or remove each muffin and cool on the rack.
Best eaten the day they are made, but will last for 2-3 days stored in an air tight container. Reheat in a microwave or oven.
Can be frozen individually wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to one month.
Because there is a lot of fruit and vegetables what have a lot of water it creates a very moist muffin. The traditionally reliable toothpick method of checking to see when a baked good is done, does not work here. No crumbs and batter cling to the toothpick even when they need more baking.
I still recommend using a toothpick, but in a different way. After 30 minutes, insert a toothpick into the middle of a muffin and take it out. Pinch the end of the toothpick that was inside the muffin, if it feels very moist and sticky, the muffins need more time. The muffins are done when the toothpick feels on the dry side of moist, plus is not sticky. These muffins take longer to bake because of the amount of moisture in the batter, anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
While in my mid 20’s I commuted into Manhattan by train from Bedford Hills NY. As commutes go my morning routine was generally relaxed. Joe would drive me to the train station in Bedford Hills, and we would get breakfast at a place called Leslie’s Kitchen. They served the best apple muffins and every morning I asked for one. Joe and I would eat our muffins and talk before my train arrived. Not a bad way to start one’s commute.
Unfortunately Leslie’s Kitchen does not exist anymore, but I still think of those apple muffins. What I liked about them was, they had chunks of apples in the muffin and sprinkled with cinnamon. They were also extremely moist and light. Leslie’s apple muffins were delicate muffins that did not weigh me down like some muffins will. It might not have been a hearty breakfast, but to this day I have not seen or tasted apple muffins like the one’s I had from Leslie’s Kitchen.
I was thinking about recipes that would be great to serve for breakfast on Christmas morning. I wanted to share a recipe that was easy to make, something that could be made ahead, and had a touch of festive cheer. My pondering concluded with an inspiration to recreate the apple muffins I longed for from Leslie’s Kitchen. As a result of my recipe testing, combining, swapping, and improvising, I came up with a recipe that is similar to what I remember of Leslie’s Kitchen apple muffins but are all dressed up for the season. Since it is December and overflowing with holiday spirit and celebrating, I included a glaze to add some sparkle and pizzaz to my apple muffins.
My recipe is adapted from three recipes. Two are from Joy of Cooking and one idea from Baking Illustrated Cookbook. First, I combined and adapted Joy of Cooking standard muffin and their apple and walnut muffin recipes. I added dried apricots and yogurt and omitted the cinnamon. The yogurt addition in my recipe created the moistness and lightness similar to the apple muffins I was recreating.
Then I decided to add sparkle and shine, so I dressed up these delicacies with an idea from Baking Illustrated, and brushed a lemon glaze over the muffin tops then dipped them in lemon sugar. This one small step converted good muffins into fabulous party worthy muffins with lemony crystal sweetness and sparkle.
My recipe for apple muffins is not exactly the same as Leslie’s, but they do remind me of them and satisfy my apple muffin cravings. Apple muffins with lemon glaze are festive breakfast muffins that shine with lemon sugar crystal twinkles and the warmth of apples. They are a delightful way to start your day and will satisfy peppy early risers and grouchy morning people alike. Enjoy!
Make ahead tip for Apple Muffins:
Joy of Cooking says you can freeze muffin batter. Spoon the muffin batter into muffin liners and freeze. First freeze the batter in the muffin liners while still in the muffin tin. Then, take the frozen muffins out of the tin and place in a freezer bag. Keep in the freezer until ready to bake. When baking day arrives, place the frozen muffins into the muffin tin then bake. The baking time could take longer, so watch carefully.
If freezing is not your thing, mix the dry ingredients together the night before. Then finish mixing the recipe the next morning. I would not recommend making the muffin batter the night before you want to bake them, because the leavening could weaken overnight.
Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze
- 2 medium sized apples (see note)
- 2/3 cup/158g granulated sugar
- Rounded 1/3 cup/ 63 g chopped dried apricots about 1/4" in size
- 4 Tb/2 oz/56 g sweet butter
- 2 cups/280 g all-purpose flour
- 1 Tb/13g baking powder
- 1/2 tea baking soda use only if you add yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream
- 1/2 tea Kosher salt
- 1/2 tea freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tea if used ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup/ 237 ml yogurt or buttermilk you can substitute with whole milk or cream- but omit the 1/2 tea baking soda
- 1 tea/5ml vanilla
Lemon Sugar Glaze for muffin topping
- zest from one small lemon
- 1/2 cup/100g Turbinado sugar
- 1/4 cup/60ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup/54g granulated sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a regular size muffin tin with cooking spray.
Peel and core the apples. Grate one of the apples on the coarse side of a box grater and put into a medium size bowl. Chop the remaining apple into pieces no bigger than 3/8" /1 cm. Add to the bowl with the grated apples. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples and stir until combined. Add the granulated sugar and chopped dried apricots. Stir then cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the apples to prevent browning, and let the apple sugar mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a microwave or saucepan. Set aside to slightly cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, (only if using yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream), Kosher salt, and nutmeg, and whisk until just combined.
In another large bowl whisk together the yogurt (or substitute), eggs, melted butter, and vanilla until just combined. Add the apple mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir until just mixed in.
Add the yogurt/apple mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Be careful not to over mix the muffin batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and fill each cup slightly shy of the top of the tin.
Bake the muffins in the oven for 14- 17 minutes, turning from front to back halfway through the baking time. A toothpick inserted in the middle of a couple of muffins should come out clean.
Cool the muffins for a couple of minutes in the muffin tin. Remove the muffins from the tin and place the muffins on the cooling rack. Serve or add the Lemon glaze to the muffins.
While the muffins are cooking prepare the lemon sugar and lemon glaze. Mix the grated lemon zest with 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
In small sauce pan add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes syrupy and reduced to about 4 tablespoons.
I recommend to place the cooling rack with the muffins over a piece of parchment paper, newspaper, or baking sheet to protect your counter from the dripping glaze.
Once the muffins have cooled for 5 minutes, brush the warm lemon glaze over the muffin tops with a pastry brush. When all the muffins are glazed, dip one muffin at a time, and top side down, into the lemon sugar. Turn muffins right side up and place on the cooling rack.
Best enjoyed on the same day they are made. These muffins do not have to be completely cooled before serving. Can be served after they have been cooled and glazed.
There are some great types of apples to use in baking. I used Lady Dragon and Granny Smith Apples in my recipe testing. You want to use a firm apple that will stand up to the high temperature of baking.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.